Preston North End stand-in boss Frankie McAvoy's focus on the shape of his defence ahead of Bees clash

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Preston North End interim head coach Frankie McAvoy will be tempted to stick with a three-man backline for the Deepdale clash with Brentford this weekend.

McAvoy went with a 3-5-2 at Swansea on Easter Monday and was rewarded with a 1-0 win and the most solid of defensive displays.

With Brentford being the division’s leading scorers, solid foundations will be needed again as McAvoy aims to guide the Lilywhites another step closer to Championship safety.

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He played a 4-4-2 with a diamond-shape midfield in the 1-1 draw with Norwich last Friday.

Liam Lindsay played at the heart of Preston’s defence in the victory at SwanseaLiam Lindsay played at the heart of Preston’s defence in the victory at Swansea
Liam Lindsay played at the heart of Preston’s defence in the victory at Swansea

McAvoy, though, felt that allowed the visitors to create too many chances.

Switching to a back three with wing-backs nullified the threat from Swansea. What the system did was enable McAvoy to continue playing two strikers with the safety net of three midfielders behind.

Ryan Ledson, who was PNE’s skipper at Swansea, felt the 3-5-2 suited them.

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And Ledson have plenty of praise to the three central defenders – Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes.

Ledson said: “I thought the three of them were brilliant.

“Linds is really strong, he’s been great since he came into the building.

“Then you have got the pace of Jordan and Hughesy either side.

“Whether that is the formation we use all the time, I don’t know, but it worked for us at Swansea.

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“Daniel Iversen didn’t have a shot to save and it’s about time we gave him that protection.

“He’s saved us a lot of times so it was nice for him to be a bit quieter.

“We hadn’t kept enough clean sheets this year and one away from home was really pleasing.”

Sepp van den Berg and Tom Barkhuizen operated as the wing-backs – for Van den Berg it was another change of role.

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The Liverpool loanee came to Deepdale as a centre-half but in the main has operated as a right-back.

Being given the extra duties of a wing-back was something he adapted to well.

McAvoy, who took over from Alex Neil during the international break, said: “I thought Sepp did the job well, we worked on it and he took on board what we wanted.

“We were too open against Norwich so we tried the 3-5-2 at Swansea.

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“Alex had used it before when he was here – we won at Blackburn playing that way.

“The wing-backs we used at Swansea were different to those at Blackburn but they adapted well.

“Now our attention is on playing Brentford and trying to win that game.”

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